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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Hospital blamed over stillborn baby
Pregnant woman
Mrs Elliker-Cole was told to go home by nurses
A pregnant woman lost her baby after being in labour for 16 hours and then being sent home by hospital nurses who told her to take an aspirin, her family claims.

The family of Ruth Elliker-Cole said Worcestershire Royal Hospital's failure to admit her to their maternity unit led directly to the stillborn birth of her son.

Melvin Cole, 59, described the effect the death of his grandson had had upon his son Andrew, 30, and daughter-in-law Ruth Elliker-Cole.

He said:"We are totally devastated by what has happened. This should not have happened in this day and age."


She was examined by nurses who took her blood pressure and examined the baby's heartbeat, which was fine

Melvin Cole

Mr Cole said his family thought the tragedy happened because there was no spare delivery suite at the new 95m hospital.

"I can understand if there was a big incident and the hospital had to deal with many injured people but they have known about Ruth's pregnancy for nine months.

"If they had done what they were supposed to do, then we would have a grandson.

"Several of the nurses have told us, off the record, that this should not have happened."

Mrs Elliker-Cole, from Worcester, began having contractions at 0200BST on June 25 - the day she was due to be induced at the hospital, which opened in March this year.

More anxious

She was seen by her community midwife later in the day who advised her that she needed to go into hospital later that afternoon.

Mr Cole, from Broadwas, Worcestershire, claimed the staff at the Worcestershire Royal told his daughter-in-law that she did not need to be there so she was sent home.

At 1800BST the expectant mother went back to the hospital because she was becoming more and more anxious, Mr Cole explained.

"She was examined by nurses who took her blood pressure and examined the baby's heartbeat, which was fine," he said.

"They said to her that she might as well go home and take an aspirin."

He added: "By 8.30 (2030BST) she was getting really worried so she phoned the hospital. They said she did not need to come in.

"Ruth asked how they could tell over the phone and they said because of her breathing."

Mr Cole said that by 2230BST Ruth, 27, was in a lot of pain so her husband took her back to Worcestershire Royal.


At Worcester, causes of stillbirth are thoroughly investigated


Hospital spokesman

"They waited another 20 minutes until there was someone to examine her.

Nurses could not find a heartbeat and nor could a doctor," he said.

"At 11pm (2300BST) my grandson was pronounced dead."

The Worcestershire Royal Hospital said in a statement: "We have deepest sympathy for Mrs Elliker-Cole and her family.

"At Worcester, causes of stillbirth are thoroughly investigated and a member of senior staff from the trust has already spoken to Mrs Elliker-Cole."

The hospital spokesman said inquiries were continuing and the trust could not comment in detail on the case.

He said: "It is not unusual for pregnant mothers, who are considered low risk, to be allowed to stay at home during the earlier stages of labour."


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